Dusk To Dawn Light Going On And Off? (We Have a Fix)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart
Automatic lights, known as dusk to dawn lights, are great for homeowners looking to save themselves the time of turning on outdoor lights. These are especially useful if you don’t want your kids playing in the dark. But, how do you fix flickering lights that do not correspond to the right time of day? Whether it be a simple replacement or hiring a professional, let’s take a look at how you can fix dusk to dawn lights that keep flickering.

No matter where you live or what your lifestyle is like, it’s safe to say that you’ll need some outdoor lighting at night. Dusk to dawn lights are one of the more popular categories of outdoor lighting on the market. This category is meant to turn on when motion hits the light, or when the sun sets. If you have them, you’re probably wondering why your lights keep turning on and off.

A dusk to dawn light that keeps flickering can be caused by a bad sensor, fluctuating voltage, as well as a faulty insulation detector. In most cases, you can fix a light that keeps going on and off by replacing the lamp. If this doesn’t work, check the voltage on your lamp and call an electrician.

Having a malfunctioning dusk to dawn light might not be a pressing matter, but it might make some of your neighbors a little peeved. Let’s talk about how you can fix this issue before your HOA decides to pay a call.

Related Content: How To Wire A Motion Sensor To Multiple Lights | Lights Flicker Off And On But Circuit Breaker Doesn’t Trip?

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What Causes A Dusk To Dawn Light To Flicker?

A flickering dusk to dawn light can be caused by a wide range of different reasons. The most common include:

  • Fluctuating Voltage. This means that the amount of power your light is getting is causing it to “brownout” and turn off when it dips below a certain threshold.
  • Bad Wiring. If your light isn’t properly connected to an electrical outlet, then it will turn on and off at random.
  • Faulty Insulation Detector. Some floodlights and outdoor lights will shut off if sensors detect poor insulation around the light. This is to prevent short circuits and similar problems.
  • Foul Weather. Extremely bad weather has been known to cause problems with outdoor lighting, including motion-sensing lights and light-detecting lamps.
  • Bad Sensors. Dusk to dawn lights are typically powered by photocells (light detectors) or by bad motion sensors. If the motion sensor starts to go, it might trigger at random.

Is A Flickering Outdoor Light A Fire Hazard?

Assuming that your light is properly wired up and connected to the right outlets, your flickering light probably isn’t a fire hazard. If you are worried about the wiring, keep an eye out for signs of burnt-out electrical wiring or frayed wires near your light. Call an electrician if you notice any wiring issues.

Can You Fix A Flickering Outdoor Light On Your Own?

For the most part, fixing a dusk to dawn light can be a DIY project. Most of the issues that can cause outdoor lights to turn on and off by themselves are fixable by beginner DIYers. The only time you should not try to work with your lighting is if you notice an electrical issue that you can’t solve on your own.

How To Fix A Flickering Dusk To Dawn Light

Troubleshooting your dusk to dawn light shouldn’t be that hard. If you aren’t sure what’s causing your lamp to act up, just follow these steps for a quick fix.

  • First, check to see if your light is properly connected. If it isn’t, wire it up properly and ensure that it’s back in working order. It only takes one faulty wire to cause voltage fluctuations or sensor failure.
  • Take a look at the weather outside. If your light only flickers during extremely inclement weather, it could be that you’re using a dusk to dawn lamp that is not built for rough weather. This usually happens with fixtures that have been exposed to hurricane-level winds, but it can also happen with some light models once temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Get a voltage reading. You want to make sure that the voltage that’s being sent to the light is stable. If it isn’t, then you have an issue with the electrical currents being sent to the light. This will need the help of an electrician to fix.
  • Clean the motion sensor and light sensor. Do your sensors look a little muddy? Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the sensors. Wait a day to see if this fixes the issue.
  • If you believe it to be an insulation detector or a problem with the actual parts of your lamp, it’s time to replace your lamp. While you could potentially fix the light by removing it and replacing the faulty part, this is often time-consuming. Most people find it easier to just replace the dusk to dawn light.

Video: Troubleshooting the Issue and Fixing It

How Much Does A Replacement Dusk To Dawn Light Cost?

The price of your lighting will depend on the style of light you want, as well as the type of sensors that control it. Most LED dusk to dawn lights will cost between $35 to $90 per unit. If you are looking for a bargain, you might be able to find pairs or even quartets of dusk to dawn lights being sold in sets for a similar price.

With most new outdoor lighting kits on the market, you should be able to install them yourself. If you cannot, hiring a professional can help. A typical service call for outdoor lighting installation will cost between $100 to $200, assuming that you already have most of the wiring in place.

Should I Just Try To Replace The Light’s Parts Instead?

Though it might be the “greener” thing to do, it actually won’t make much sense in the long or short run. Because of the low price of a new unit, it makes more financial sense for most homeowners to replace (or even upgrade) their old light. Moreover, older lights are more prone to breaks, so you might be stuck fixing it repeatedly if you keep your old lamp.

How Long Do Typical Dusk To Dawn Lights Last?

Modern LED dusk to dawn lamps now last around 50,000 hours of lighting time. This roughly translates into at least a decade of regular use, or up to 15 years of intermittent use before you need to replace a light bulb.

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Related Questions

Do photocells fail on or off?

When a photosensor on a dusk to dawn light fails, it stops being able to read when it’s daylight. This causes the light to remain on, even during the day.

Do LED lights ever burn out?

LED lights never burn out or pop that way that a typical fluorescent bulb would. Rather, LED lights tend to get dimmer and dimmer with every use. The only time you’ll hear of an LED light burning out is if there is a component in the bulb that is actually malfunctioning.

Can you leave LED lights on 24/7? 

If you are smart enough to splurge on a top tier set of outdoor LED lights, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to keep them on 24/7. They’re made to have more staying power than regular fluorescent bulbs and incandescent bulbs don’t.

Do outdoor light sensors go bad?

They can, and they often are one of the first parts of a dusk to dawn light to go. If you believe your sensor is starting to fail, you may want to look into replacing your light.

Can dusk to dawn lights deter thieves?

Thieves and burglars operate by using darkness as a cover. A well-placed light absolutely can deter would-be thieves, but may not be enough to stop determined thieves.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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